ROCK Dinosaur Jr Glasgow: Arches, Mon 4.
I wasn't expecting this. Of all the sorry tales of interview inarticulacy, barely audible 'Uhhherrrrs' and general, downright awkwardness, nothing quite prepares you for the real thing. 'Uhhrrr . . . dunno, yeah, maybe' are some of the more eloquent responses uttered from the mouth of J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. And, of course, it’s simply a way of dealing with the 'evil' press. Instead of refusing interviews, you simply make them unworkable - slip into a Joey Ramone on Mogadon mode, say next to nothing and we'll still think you're cool. Sort of.
So, Dinosaur Jr - icons from an age long slipped by in the wake of, well, the shifting sands of pop. And, like J., I can't bring myself to utter 'slacker', 'zen apathy' and all the rest of the reference points so beloved of the liberal media from the early 90s. In fact, post-rave, and it hardly matters, but Dinosaur Jr’s place in the scheme of underground pop remains important. There’s still the tingle of anticipation at a new Dinosaur Jr album, and the sense of an event whenever they make the odd live outing over here. Me? I can't wait, but what about J.? Does the inspiration become harder to muster as the years roll forward?
'Errr . . . No.’
Hmm. It doesn't sound like it but recent album Hand It Over and the
Brian Wilson jaunt of 'Take A Run' prove that, yeah, J.'s not lying — his muse still runs with him. He reckons that Hand It Over is his fave Dinosaur Jr album simply because ’it's the one I've heard least'. It’s reassuringly Dinosaur: cracked-up falsettos, the sound of freedom on six strings, thunderously great songs - but embellished with strings, pianos, horns and all kinds of sweeteners. 'I recorded it in my studio,’ says J. in rare polysyllabic outburst. ‘I had more time with this one, I could play
around with it.’
Dinosaur Jr stars in The Lost Wor(l)d
Hand It Over is built from the same mould as 93’s classic, Where You Been and the similar but inferior Without a Sound from 94. But our affection for DJ rests on the proto-slacker years (87/88), oops I've said it now, when the incendiary 'Freak Scene' and groundbreaking Bug album rescued many of us from facile, blue-eyed soul and Morrissey.
’I still intend to play some of that stuff,’ he says, ’half of the new album and bits from all the others.’ (Neil
CLASSICAL Anonymous 4 Glasgow: Bute Hall, Sat 2 Aug.
Anonymous 4: huge sales
so THE L131 25 Jul—7 Aug 1997
They may call themselves Anonymous, but they are far from unknown. A quartet of female voices, the New York-based Anonymous 4 have sold in excess of 1.2 million albums, toured to huge critical acclaim in North America, Europe and Japan and are about to make their Scottish debut as part of the Glasgow International Early Music Festival. The fact that their repertoire is medieval plainchant and early polyphony makes their success even more surprising, ’When we formed, eleven years ago, it was like, “who’s going to buy medieval music?" ’ says singer Susan Hellauer. ’But the definition of classical music has widened, there's been a wave of popularity for Gregorian chant and also, the New Age movement has latched onto things more contemplative. It's not a market we had thought of, but if they want to
buy the record . . .’ Most of the Glasgow programme
consists of repertoire from a manuscript called Miracles of Sant’lago. 'It all comes from the same manuscript, which is kept in Spain but was almost all written in France,’
explains Hellauer. Plainchant, a single line of vocal melody in free rhythm, is interspersed with polyphony, where the texture of the mu5ic changes into more fIUid lines, interweaving between the voices. Part of the great interest to musicologists is that the Sant’lago manuscript contains some of the first polyphony. ’In the 12th century, when this was wntten,’ says Hellauer, 'the composition of plainsong was in a golden age, really at its height and from the beginning an aim of ours was not to ignore chant or treat it as a weak sister to polyphony. On the big feast days, most of the serVice would be in plainsong and then it would be “wow” at the polyphony.’
In these times, of course, women would not have Sung on such occasions. 'But, nuns sung in their convents JUSI as much as men,’ says Hellauer. Other music was written for schoolboys, so high voices would have been used then too. We don’t actually sing that high and we’ve tried very hard not to be pigeonholed as a women's group. We iust happen to be women singing medieval music.’
LO-Fl Magic Nights
Glasgow: Cottier Theatre, Sat 26/Sun
We’re in that weird post—T in the Park, pre-students returning no man’s land where Primal Scream and Verve gigs have to be pounced on or the opportunity to experience live rock music of some quality will have vanished. So Magic Nights, a potentially bewitching weekend of underground sounds in the Cottier Theatre, lengthens the odds somewhat.
Over two nights there will be sets from local heroes The Pastels and The Delgados, the rejuvenated Cornershop and the stereophonic scientists Future Pilot AKA. Most interesting is a rare appearance by supercool New Jersey trio Yo La Tengo, currently beguiling ears with / Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, a double album containing summer wistfulness, druggy mantras and acid riffs.
’I feel an affinity with Scottish groups,’ says singer/gunarist Ira Kaplan of the prospect of playing here again. 'So many of them seem to love music and not just the idea of being a pop star. I feel an affinity with bands like The Pastels who have been around for a long time and I’m interested in how they stay vital.’
The same study could be made of Yo La Tengo, who are now on to their eighth album in eleven years, and chalked up a celluloid appearance last year in IShot Andy Warho/, when they were asked to play the Factory house band - who can’t be named for legal reasons or something, but to whom Yo La Tengo are often compared.
’We tltOught it was somewhat perverse to do that because we actually tried to sound like Velvet Underground for the scene, which we've never tried to do before. Georgia played a beat she assooated With Mo Tucker and I played a “Foggy Notion” kinda riff.’
Nowadays the group’s fanbase extends beyond the film world to the council chambers of Minneapolis, where 2 June this year was declared Yo La Tengo Day.
’We were like Visiting dignitaries,' says Kaplan. 'Now we’ve had a taste of one, we’re hoping we can have Yo La Tengo Days the world over.’
.1; ' " Today is national Yo La Tengo Magic Night day